feel the burns: The scottish indie songbook
Rabbie Burns knew lyrics. He did write Auld Lang Syne after all. The Bard’s Red Red Rose was the primary inspiration behind none other than Bobby Dylan, so his connection with modern music is a thing. With his very own day in the Scottish calendar, Burns is the inspiration behind yer playlist here, pals. If Burns night means nothing to you (i.e. you are not Scottish), it should. Not only is it an important celebration in the land of whisky & heather, but it might also be the best excuse for a pass out during your dry January (just don’t actually pass out).
These songs hang together somehow, perhaps with the air of the perpetual dark horse. The rain, the luckless national football team, the referendum. It can be hard to be a Scot sometimes. Maybe that’s why The Twilight Sad’s new album is titled “It Won’t Be Like This All The Time”. The underrated Lanarkshire band (Scotland’s own Arcade Fire?) released the record just last week and comes er, braveheartedly recommended. Somehow, perhaps because of the bleakness and the beauty, Scottish indie seems to be thriving. Maybe there is a kindred rallying too, from the tragedy of the recent death of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson (RIP).
Some excellent music all round herein. Steve Mason has a brand new album, and so does KT Tunstall, so I have dropped singles from those albums into this collection. The Mull Historical Society has a brand new song out called Little Bird, and it is quite beautiful, string arrangements and all. You will find it here as well.
This playlist is a little different from the ‘Made In Scotland’ type fair out there in playlist land. We’ve rooted this collection very much in the present (or, recent) indie scene North of the border (and thank goodness we say border not ‘wall’ eh?). Maybe you’ve yet to discover the quiet, understated melancholy of King Creosote, or didn’t know of the existence of The Trashcan Sinatras, or you’ve just forgotten Idlewild. Is Scotland some sort of foraging ground for underrated indie bands? Then you have the gals of course. If you haven't met Zoe Graham then start here. More electronic fare? Try the OK Button's Beds, or of course Churches (featured here with guest Matt Berninger who is welcome in Scotland and everywhere else in our book).
One native scot you must have come across is Gerry Cinnamon though, yeah? The staunchly anti-industry, indie wonderkind is tearing up the ground in the Scottish music scene, and making an international name for his music too. Quite rightly, his work buzzes with provocative, melodic energy, and wonderfully provincial yet global lyrics. I first came across Gerry a year ago, on the homepage of Bandcamp, where all good indie musicians go to sell their wares. He’s one of the current musicians that you are just dying to hear more from. He is genuinely exciting.
You’ll notice the vast majority of the collective here sing with proudly native accents (why do the males do this more than female artists though, I wonder?), which embodies the Scottish pride many of these songs evoke. Pride for a nation creative, feisty, funny - despite being soaked to the bone most of the time.
And so, Scot or not, simply enter into the spirit. Get on the web and grab one of Rabbie’s works of wonder, pour yourself a wee dram, sit back and enjoy. And be impressed by the very high quality music that is Scottish Indie. Really, dare you even skip one of these numbers because I canne!
Playback notes: This playlist should ideally be played in order, as it has been meticulously scheduled to accompany a Burns night in. But then if yer pished by half way who minds, shuffle will do you just fine.